The material on Percival Stein continues to throw up some interesting material.
It seems that Stein established himself as a theatre publicist and by 1895 was much in demand. One of his shows involved a visiting Italian opera singer, Paulo Frazzoni, a small but vocally powerful man of humble birth from a peasant village in Southern Italy.
Stein decided, with Barnum-style flair, to have Paulo Frazzoni make his entrance at the New York Theatre, in a horse and cart, dressed as a peasant, with various members of the orchestra following on. The themed cart would parade up from the Lower East Side to Broadway, thus encouraging a wider and more diverse audience than usual for an opera.
This spectacle drew crowds of people as it processed through New York, especially amongst the street demographic. However, it suddenly took on a more sinister air as the horse and cart turned a corner onto 42nd Street.
Frazzoni appeared to be getting smaller and smaller or somehow to be slipping down the cart. What the tumultuous crowds thought was an opera singer in mid aria, turned out to be Frazzoni screaming in agony as his legs were pulled down below the cart and mangled in its wheels.
Frazzoni’s legs could not be freed by anyone. An emergency amputation had to be performed at a nearby hospital, but it was too late. Frazzoni had been mangled up to his waist by the time the horse was stopped, and had lost so much blood, he literally bled to death.
To Stein’s horror, he had not realised the level of popularity that Frizzoni had attained in his home town, especially amongst the Sicilian contingent. When Stein heard that some of these fans were taking the long journey by boat to New York to demand a full explanation of how and why their local hero had bled to death, Stein became increasingly afraid that he was going to be bumped off. As the arrival of the Italians approached, his paranoia reached an all time high and Stein felt he had no choice but to take matters into his own hands. Via a shady business contact, he approached the cosa nostra in New York in a last ditch attempt to save himself.